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The Carolina Theatre: A Legacy for Performing Arts

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

First opened in 1926, The Carolina Theatre in Durham holds plays, musicals, comedy routines, live music performances and film screenings. Considered "the premier showplace for the performing arts in Downtown Durham", as noted by yjr Marketing Manager, it is the last of the original Durham theaters.

You can schedule a tour of the building or see its history upfront though the visual exhibits. The main lobby houses the artists and films that have performed at the theater over nearly a century showcasing the theater's evolution. Confronting Change is an exhibit on the second balcony depicting the story of the integration of North Carolina and those that worked for equal theater access for everyone regardless of color. Donations are being taken for a new exhibit called Restoring Hope, which is planned as a dedication to the theater's 1970s and 1980s volunteers, namely Connie Moses, who worked hard during those times to bring The Carolina Theatre back to life.

All types of music acts and comedy provide entertainment for the community. "We've hosted the North Carolina Gay + Lesbian Film Festival since 1995," says the Marketing Department, "and we're also a key site of the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival each spring." Dance Theater of Harlem, Dr. John and the Night Trippers, George Benson, Menopause: The Musical and NBC's Last Comic Standing are just a few of the exciting upcoming performances at The Carolina Theatre.

Young children can watch The Dinosaur Diary of Dr. T-Rex or The Frog Prince, both performed with puppets. Show times are during the school day, and suggested curriculum topic connections are provided online to assist teachers. Reduced-price tickets for qualifying schools are offered, allowing more kids to attend these one-of-a-kind interactive presentations. For many kids, this theatre provides a lasting memory of the first live event they ever attended.

It's best to reserve tickets in advance. Film tickets can be picked up at the Cinema Box Office right before the showing, while both live performance and film tickets are sold at Fletcher Hall Box Office during Monday through Friday open hours. To make it easier for its patrons, The Carolina Theatre tickets are also sold through Ticketmaster with their service charge tacked on.

Don't be alarmed with extra fees added on to the face value of your ticket purchase, as unlike the service charge, these fees are to benefit the theater. The $2 fee on live-event tickets and the 50-cent fee on film tickets goes directly toward theater repairs and restoration. Renovations that include the addition of its two modern cinemas in the early 1990s and new high-backed reclining seats just a few months' ago.

That's a small price to pay for the luxury of events The Carolina Theatre provides the community. "It's a legacy we're very proud to continue, as we near the end of our first century in a fantastic city in the process of its own spectacular renaissance."

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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